Qualified Entry: Non-Fiction Category
By: Susan Beckman
On a coal-black, moonless night, my brother-in-law and I are on our way home. We have spent a long, grueling day at the hospital visiting my husband. We see brake lights ahead. Both lanes are blocked. The cars are at a standstill. We are exhausted. All we have on our mind is getting some sleep.
“I wonder what happened,” I said. “I can’t see anything with no street lights. Maybe there was an accident.”
After sitting a few minutes, watching other people exit their cars, I reluctantly open the car door and get out. This is the last thing I need tonight—something keeping me away from my comfortable bed.
I walk between the cars. When I get into the open roadway, illuminated only by headlights, I see teenage girls scattered across the highway in varying degrees of injury and pain; moaning, screaming and crying. I look at people standing around and wonder why no one is doing anything.
I don’t want to get involved—I just want to lay my head on my pillow. If I get involved, we will be delayed in getting home.
I keep repeating out loud, to no one in particular, “What happened? Does anyone know what happened?”
I continue walking, tripping over and stepping around multiple pieces of debris: purses, school books, a bottle of cologne, papers, a single shoe, chunks of crumpled metal, a bottle of nail polish. The acrid smell of gasoline and burnt rubber hang in the air, mixed with occasional whiffs of cologne.
An SUV is overturned in the ditch—one tire slowly spinning—with scant clouds of dust swirling in the air. The windows are broken and shattered. The doors and mirrors are hanging haphazardly.
In my mind I pray, Lord, help me. Being an EMT, I know I need to find the most severely injured girl. I start moving from girl to girl, each one sprawled on the ground in different locations. I note their injuries are not life-threatening. I continually pray, Lord, please help me find the worst one.
I almost miss the last girl lying in dark shadows off the roadway. I only know she is there by the deathlike sounds of gurgling and suffocating. I can barely see she is lying on her side with her back facing me. I briefly hesitate, fearful of what I will find when I see her face.
I kneel down next to her. I wonder if she will even be able to hear my voice above her strangely loud gurgling and gasping sounds.
“Don’t move. I’m here to help you. Hold on, Honey. The ambulance will be here any minute. Don’t move.”
Her grunting and wailing become steadily louder as she kicks and fights to move. I resort to lying on top of her, using all my strength to hold her steady, despite her constant struggling and thrashing. Her petite body is wet and sticky with blood. The rough, grainy tar pebbles on the road are gouging into my knees.
I adamantly yell to the growing crowd, “When the ambulance gets here, send them over here. Tell them this is the worst one.”
As I am praying for this girl, I become aware of another voice next to me. It is a calm, soothing voice, praying in the heavenly language of tongues. The surrounding area slowly becomes bathed in a luminous glow of hazy, white fog—even though no one had come any closer to us with lights.
I turn my head to the right. A man is kneeling next to me, his hands laid upon the girl. He is persistently praying. He is dressed in all white clothing, from head to toes: a white baseball cap, white shirt, white trousers and white tennis shoes. My initial impression is that he is a painter. I thank God for sending a Christian.
Somewhere in between praying and concentrating on keeping the girl from moving, I realize the man has disappeared as quickly as he had appeared. I am not aware of him physically standing up and walking away.
The ambulance finally arrives and the paramedics take over. The Life Flight helicopter lands in the median of the highway. I watch as they transfer the girl into the helicopter. I stand in awe as it slowly lifts off the ground and up into the sky, the headlights eerily shining brightly, reminding me of a similar scene out of the ET movie.
I need to find the man in white and thank him for praying. I want to let him know that I am also a Christian and it was comforting to have another Christian by my side. I start wandering around the multitude of people now gathered.
“Did you see the man dressed in all white? Where did he go? Did anybody see him? Where is he?”
“No, we didn’t see anyone like that.”
I anxiously and eagerly glance over the crowd, looking for the man in all white. “He was right there next to me with that girl. Where did he go?”
“There wasn’t anyone like that around here.”
He was nowhere to be found. No one else had seen him.
Weeks later, I learn the girl has survived. She incurred multiple injuries, including a punctured lung. The paramedics said someone kept her from rolling onto her back, otherwise her lungs would have collapsed and she would have died.
I had been exhausted that night. I honestly did not want to be bothered with helping anyone. I did not want to give up my time. I did not want to get involved. But God pushed me forward into a surreal setting. I could have stood by like others in the crowd, but He gave me the strength to confront a disastrous situation. I felt isolated with no one else helping.
I thank God for helping me remember my EMT training. I thank Him for guiding me to the most severely injured girl. But I thank Him specifically for sending one of his awesome angels, whom I will never forget.
Susan Beckman is an active member of Calvary Chapel, Jupiter, FL, along with her husband of 38 years. She shares many true-life experiences through her writing. She also enjoys Bible studies, quilting, candlemaking, cooking, herbology, genealogy and gardening.